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Winners of Rotary’s Youth Speaks competition

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Rotary’s Senior Youth Speaks competition local heat has been won by Dauntsey’s School.

The Rotary Youth Speaks competition aims to give young people the opportunity to express themselves clearly and effectively in public as members of a team, whilst also encouraging a high standard of public speaking in a formal situation.

Rotary report, “The competition took place at Melksham Oak School on Wednesday 29th January with five teams.  Stonar put in two teams and there was one each from Melksham Oak, Dauntsey’s and Kingdown.

“The competition was different this year in that it was in the form of a debate between two speakers with a chair and questions from the floor.  The new format worked well, and the general view was that it is an improvement over the old format of a single speaker.  

“The subjects were very varied:

“Saving the High Street; The Snowflake Generation; Compulsory Religious Studies in Schools; Banning Mobile Phones in Classrooms; and, inevitably, Brexit. 

“The winning team was from Dauntsey’s School, debating whether the High Street should be saved.  The debate was chaired by Caitlin Clark but, unusually, the proposer and the opposer were sisters, Aurelia and Bella Harris-Johnstone, experienced competitors from previous years.  Kingdown School were placed second, debating whether Generation Z really are “snowflakes”. Their team too was a mixture of experience and newcomers, Ellen Archard, Ellie Chatwin and Jamie Riddle.

“The Best Individual Speaker went to Thomas Curtin of the home team Melksham Oak – a naturally gifted speaker opposing Brexit.

“There were many questions from the audience in all the debates and, apart from the serious side of the competition, there was a vote by show of hands – just for fun.  Interestingly the votes were evenly split on all the topics except that there was an overwhelming majority for banning mobile phones in classrooms.

“The awards were presented by Rita Sanders, president of Melksham Rotary, who sponsored Melksham Oak and whose members provided the refreshments.

“MC Graham Baskerville said, “We needn’t have worried about the new format because, with such talent in the schools, the competitors took the new rules in their stride and everyone performed brilliantly.  It was a really enjoyable event”.

Further heats will take place during February, culminating in the district final, which will be held in Cheddar.”

Pictured: Melksham Oak’s Thomas Curtin and Melksham Rotary President Rita Sanders.

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